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Ford Performance - NCTS COTA Post-Race Quotes
Zane Smith was victorious in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ return to Circuit of The Americas. The win is Smith’s ninth in the series and his second-straight at the road course. Ford has won three consecutive times at Circuit of The Americas in the Craftsman Truck Series (Todd Gilliland, 2021; Smith, 2022-2023).
Ford Finishing Results:
1st – Zane Smith
3rd – Ty Majeski
10th – Ben Rhodes
15th – Kaden Honeycutt
16th – Hailie Deegan
22nd – Logan Bearden
26th – Mason Filippi
33rd – Matt Crafton
ZANE SMITH, No. 38 Speedco/Peak Ford F-150 (Finished 1st) – WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE CLOSING LAPS WITH KYLE BUSCH MAKING A PUSH? “Yeah, it was definitely nerve-racking there, but I knew once he was in that traffic, I needed to somewhat charge there but have enough at the end of the run. While he was trying to get through traffic, I was just trying to put down lap times and get a gap going. Fortunately, we worked up to about six-and-a-half seconds. I knew I was going to have to make a big mistake for him to get into striking distance. He is so strong under braking, and COTA is just all massive braking zones. That was my biggest worry, but I always enjoy racing him and it was fun this weekend racing with Ross [Chastain]. I’ve learned so much racing those guys, so hopefully in the near future, I can race with them every weekend.”
TIRES PROVED TO BE MORE OF A FACTOR THIS YEAR. HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO MANAGE DEGRADATION? “Really difficult, especially I feel like every year it gets bumpier and bumpier, and these bumps are knocking us sideways left and right. That’s the biggest thing. A lot of this track has new pavement and old pavement. It’s so easy to lock up fronts and try to find that drive-off. Fortunately, we found it when it mattered, and I’m just so happy to be here.”
TY MAJESKI, No. 98 Cincinnati/Curb Records Ford F-150 (Finished 3rd) - HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR FINISH? “It was a good, solid day for us. Anytime you can come here with the Cup guys at a road course, it’s tough. So, I had good top-five speed all day. Not sure if we had a third-place truck, but probably around there. Just a solid day. Joe (Shear Jr.) made a great pit call. We were able to jump a lot of guys on pit road there right before that caution came out. It was great timing and a good call by Joe. We had some shaky pit stops, we got behind on track position, and that got us back in the game. Overall, solid day for us. Got to be close to the points lead? A good day. Just have to keep top-fiving them and getting stage points into the summer months.”
BEN RHODES, No. 99 Farm Paint Ford F-150 (Finished 10th) - WHAT HAPPENED LATE IN THE RACE? “Driveshaft just came right out of it going into Turn 19 on the last lap. Thankful it happened there, or we may not have even finished. But, still a bummer. I felt it kind of coming apart with two [laps] to go, and I wasn’t sure at that point what it was. But, one to go I started feeling some pretty noticeable issues, so I coasted as much as I could, and gave up as much time as I could to Ty Majeski behind me. I thought I was managing the gap OK, but then I come out of Turn 18, the carousel, and I believe – how I recall it – as I loaded up pretty hard and hit the chip, that’s right when it broke. But I have to go back and watch the camera. It kind of caught me off guard and took my attention elsewhere.”
WAS THERE A CONCERN YOU WOULDN’T EVEN BE ABLE TO MAKE IT BACK? “Yeah, I was really worried actually. Watching the big hill come up to me and getting slower and slower, I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m just watching trucks fly past. That was just an absolute heartbreaker, really. I know everybody on our team, we set ourselves up for a good finish with the pit-stops because we knew we didn’t have the short run speed that the other trucks did. But the truck held on for pace really well at the end. The bummer is I think we only got nine on stage points, and we gave up those stage points to try to get a good finish. It just completely bites us and turns into a bad points day overall.”
IS THERE SOME POSITIVE? “My team’s had great speed, and that’s the way that we need to take this. That’s the absolute attitude that we need to have. It’s very easy to focus on the negative… I tend to do that myself actually. The good news is that our crew chief, Jared, who has done a great job leading the team and keeping everybody happy. Making sure that we’re all in the right frame of mind. I think that’s one of his strong suits. He’ll find the silver lining. He already told me, ‘Good thing it busted out in the last corner.’ I said, ‘I’m just mad it busted at all.’ He is just happy as can be that the truck ran good the whole race and it happened at the proper timing to still get 10th. He has a good attitude. I’ll work on mine a little bit.”
Ford Performance PR
Burton Qualifies 16th at COTA
Harrison Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang are set to start 16th in Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Burton turned a lap at 92.846 miles per hour in qualifying on Saturday. His speed was up from practice on Friday, where his lap at 92.286 mph was 15th fastest on the speed chart. His best time came on the 14th of the 16 lap he ran in the session.
Sunday’s 68-lap, 231.88-mile race on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn course is set to start just after 2:30 p.m. Central Time (3:30 Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.
Stage breaks are planned for Laps 15 and 30.
Ankrum Earns Season-Best Top-Five Finish in Austin
Tyler Ankrum (fourth) scored a top-five finish at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday afternoon to lead Toyota. It is Ankrum’s third top-10 finish in three races at the track. TRICON Garage placed three Tundras in the top-10 with Corey Heim (sixth), Tanner Gray (eighth) and Kaz Grala (ninth).
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
Circuit of the Americas
Race 4 of 23 – 42 Laps, 143.22 Miles
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Zane Smith*
2nd, Kyle Busch*
3rd, Ty Majeski*
4th, TYLER ANKRUM
5th, Ross Chastain*
6th, COREY HEIM
8th, TANNER GRAY
9th, KAZ GRALA
11th, TAYLOR GRAY
14th, STEWART FRIESEN
20th, COLIN GARRETT
25th, TIMMY HILL
28th, DALE QUARTERLY
35th, DEAN THOMPSON
TYLER ANKRUM, No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, Hattori Racing Enterprises
Finishing Position: 4th
Another good run for you in Austin. Can you walk me through that last run as you looked to run down the leaders?
“Well, it was really weird because the first half of the stage – we went to the stage break and not a lot of other drivers did. I came out right behind Christian Eckes and for 15 laps I didn’t see anyone. That was really confusing. I didn’t know where we were going to come out. We were on a two-stop strategy, and we came out – I want to say ninth or 10th – right when the caution fell. It was perfect. It was really a God send. Kyle (Busch) smoked me on the restart. I’ve a got to learn. I don’t know how he does that. We were able to get a fourth place finish out of this. Thank you to LiUNA!, Toyota. All of the Tundra TRD Pros are built here in Texas. I can’t thank everyone enough. Coming to Texas, I always love coming here. Austin is one of the best cities in the world.”
Why were you able to come through the field?
“The caution at the end fell right for us. We were pitting right before it came out. Super fortunate that all of those guys that hadn’t pitted made their stop and we came out of there in like ninth or 10th. Some of them had a few laps older tires than me, so I was able to stay close and capitalize. It was a really fun battle there with Ross (Chastain) there at the end. He gave me a lot of slack and raced me super clean. Hats off to him. Hats off to Toyota, LiUNA! Our Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is built here in Texas, so it is an awesome place to get a top-five for them.”
COREY HEIM, No. 11 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, TRICON Garage
Finishing Position: 6th
Earned some solid stage points and top-10 finish in your first race here at COTA. Can you talk about your race?
“I thought overall we had a really solid day with our stage points. That penalty in stage two really hurt us. That’s all on me. My JBL team, TRICON Garage, did a really good job today. I’m super thankful to JBL and Toyota Racing for being a part of this race at COTA – one of Toyota’s home tracks. Really just proud of our p6. Definitely could have been better if it wasn’t for the mistake on my part, but I will learn and get better for the next one.”
TANNER GRAY, No. 15 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, TRICON Garage
Finishing Position: 8th
Top-10 starting spot, and a second top-10 finish this season. How was your race?
“Early, I felt like I struggled a bit just getting in a rhythm. I lost some ground. I didn’t feel like I did a very good job in that first stage really, managing tires. I felt like I burned the right rears off of it. I ended up getting that penalty from cutting the esses, but it kind of played in our favor. A little bit of luck came into it there, but all-in-all, it was a good day for us. Our goal coming in here was to run 10th-to-12th, and we got a couple better than that. I still don’t feel like I’m a very good road course racer. Still, a lot for me to work on, but all-in-all everybody did a really good job. It was awesome to have a really good run with Mobil 1 on the truck in their first race with us, so hopefully we can continue and just have solid days and try to extend our gap from the cut line.”
XPEL 225 results from Circuit of The Americas
Byron Rewrites Record Books with EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix Pole
William Byron continued his white-hot season and rewrote the history books in qualifying for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, becoming NASCAR’s first Cup Series (NCS) driver to earn a pole at four different road courses. The 25-year-old has now won the pole at the Charlotte ROVAL™ (2019), Road America (2021), the Indianapolis Road Course (2021) and Circuit of The Americas (COTA).
The triumph capped an up-and-down 24 hours for the Hendrick Motorsports driver, whose final-round qualifying effort on Friday for the Pit Boss Grills 250 presented by USA TODAY was disqualified after officials determined he exceeded track limits.
“It’s been an up and down weekend,” he said. “It’s good to get the pole, but there’s lot of physical work to do. Hopefully we can prepare throughout the day today and get ready for tomorrow.”
The two-minute 10.76-second pole-winning lap adds to a recent hot streak for Byron, who’s notched two wins already this season.
“It’s great to see things come together as they are,” Byron said. “I’m not really surprised by what our team is capable of, but it’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of things still to do and accomplish.”
Byron held off a hard-charging Tyler Reddick, whose No. 45 Toyota will start on the outside pole when the green flag falls Sunday.
Austin Cindric qualified third. IMSA sports car star Jordan Taylor, making his NCS debut, will start fourth, filling in for the injured Chase Elliott. Taylor will be joined by two Formula One champions in the field. Kimi Raikkonen will start 22nd, with Jenson Button in 24th. Seven-time NCS champion Jimmie Johnson will make his first COTA start from the 31st position.
Tickets for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix are on sale at NASCARatCOTA.com. Sunday tickets, which include the Darius Rucker pre-race concert, start at $70 for adults and just $10 for kids 12 and under. Further details can be found on the NASCAR at COTA website.
Keep track of all things NASCAR at COTA by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@NASCARatCOTA). Keep up with all the latest information on the NASCAR at COTA website and mobile app.
Ford Performance - NCS COTA Qualifying Quotes
FORD QUALIFYING RESULTS
3rd - Austin Cindric
15th - Joey Logano
16th - Harrison Burton
19th - Chase Briscoe
20th - Michael McDowell
24th - Jenson Button
26th - Ryan Preece
29th - Kevin Harvick
30th - Brad Keselowski
32nd - Chris Buescher
36th - Todd Gilliland
37th - Cody Ware
38th - Ryan Blaney
39th - Aric Almirola
Austin Cindric posted his third top-10 start at Circuit of The Americas with Saturday’s third-place qualifying result. It is his fourth in six races this season.
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – HOW DID YOU THINK YOUR QUALIFYING WENT? “Yeah, good execution by everyone in our Discount Ford Mustang in qualifying. I feel like this weekend, more than others, qualifying will certainly have an impact on your ability to have a good finish – without the stage cautions. So, solid place to start, it gives us great pit selection. But, we’re still lacking a bit of overall pace to try and challenge. I really thought I nailed my lap in the second round – just not enough. We’re definitely focused on trying to have a good car for tomorrow, and I’m hoping this pays off.”
HOW HAS THE CAR AND PACKAGE BEEN HERE AT CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS SO FAR? “The adjusted aero package certainly did the same things that we experienced at Phoenix. Just a lot less grip, a lot smaller window with the car. Being able to stay on-top of those things could be really important as the track and race evolves.”
DOES YOUR ROAD COURSE BACKGROUND HELP IN CUP? “In some ways it’s apples and oranges. I don’t think there’s any car I drove GT racing that had this little downforce. So, I’d say a go-kart might be closer to some of the GT cars I’ve driven."
Jenson Button posted the fastest Ford time in Qualifying Round 1A.
JENSON BUTTON, No. 15 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang – TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN. “The car was moving around a lot. My first lap I definitely didn’t get everything out of it. When you go out on old tires, you don’t really get the best out of it. I already lost the rear. I mean, it was OK. We’ll see. I’m in front of one of my heroes from NASCAR, Kevin Harvick, so it’s not so bad. It’s a pretty good day."
HAS ANYTHING FROM GARAGE 56 HELPED YOU BRIDGE THE LEARNING CURVE? “I think in terms of the weight, yes. In terms of everything else, I think it’s probably hindered me more than anything else. You brake at the three-marker everywhere here and then in Cup car, you brake before the four-marker. So, certain things are very different – we have traction control in that as well. Some things have hurt me, some things have helped me.”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SECTOR AT CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS? “The first sector is really tough. In an F1 car through the esses, it’s pretty awesome and very fast-flowing – pretty easy in an F1 car. In this car, it is not easy. You’re bouncing over the curbs, there’s a lot of movement – front, rear roll. So that’s the trickiest section but if you get it right, it’s very rewarding. The best section for me is Turn 12 and the slow corners there. Just because I think that’s my most competitive sector. That’s why I like it. If I was slow there, I wouldn’t like it. That, for me, is the best sector. I struggle in the carousel, the long right-hander – a little bit understeer and oversteer. It’s getting used to the car bouncing, hitting bumps… just not used to that yet.”
HOW ARE YOU ACCLIMATING? “It’s been all good. The team has been fantastic to be fair, and it has really helped me get into a groove. The people I’m working with at Stewart-Haas Racing and Rick Ware Racing have been fantastic. Really, really good. I think in terms of the pace, we’re still quite a bit off over one lap, but that’s me just getting used to coming out of the pits, pushing it hard for one lap. It takes a little bit of time when you’re not 100 percent confident in a car."
Ford Performance PR
Grant Sexton’s 2023 Perris Auto Speedway Debut
Southern California teenage racing star Grant Sexton raced his new Triple X Chassis/Shaver 410 racing engine for the first time at Perris Auto Speedway last Saturday night. For the 2021 POWRi Southwest Lightning Sprint Car Series champion, it was his first of eight races on the west coast’s premiere dirt track in 2023.
For Sexton and the other 24 drivers on hand, it was the first series race since the end of January at Arizona’s Cocopah Speedway. A two-night show at the Central Arizona Raceway in mid-February was canceled due to rain. Sexton began the night by recording a lap of 17.321 in qualifying. That was the 22nd fastest in the field. The qualifying time put the 18-year-old racer, who is running for “Rookie of the Year,” in the second eight-lap heat race of the night. When the 10 lapper concluded, he crossed the line in eighth place.
For the main event, the outgoing teenager began the 25-car, 30-lap race in the 22nd spot. He advanced forward three positions to finish 19th.
After three series races in 2023, Sexton is ranked 14th in the championship standings and currently leads the “Rookie of the Year” chase.
The 18-year-old driver, who lives in Lakeside, California, was part of a strong contingent of young drivers not only in the USAC/CRA Series, but also in the track’s Young Gun Sprint Car Class. The influx of youth bodes well for the future of sprint car racing on the west coast.
This weekend, Sexton and the other USAC/CRA drivers were slated to race on Friday at Kings Speedway in Hanford and the Thunder Bowl Raceway in Tulare on Saturday. Unfortunately, the persistent rains that have hammered California throughout the first three months of the year added those two tracks to their victim list and both races were canceled. They were the third and fourth rainouts in the first seven series races in 2023.
After getting this weekend off, Sexton and the SGR #22 will return to the track when the USAC/CRA Series visits Arizona’s Mojave Valley Raceway on Saturday, April 1st.
Sexton Gatlin Racing would like to thank the following companies for making the 2022 season possible. Keys Brothers, East County Electric Works, Maxima Oil, Automated Interiors, Sexton Fire Protection, BK Wings, Troy Dirt, Victory Graphix, and Swift Powdercoat.
WHAT DOES RACING AT COTA MEAN TO YOU IN TERMS OF YOUR EXPERIENCE IN F1 AND NOW IN NASCAR?
Kimi Räikkönen: “First of all, I’m happy to be back with the team, PROJECT91, and at the track that I know. Obviously, a lot different to how it feels. It’s the same track but it feels a lot different in an F1 car to a NASCAR car. A lot of the corners are more kind of straights in F1 because of the downforce. It gets a bit trickier in a NASCAR car. It’s nice to be back and it’s a lovely place to be here in Texas. Let’s hope we can do well. We will try to improve from yesterday and today and see what we do in the race.”
COMPARED TO F1, HOW HAS THIS EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE FOR YOU TO WORK WITH YOUR TEAMMATES ROSS (CHASTAIN) AND DANIEL (SUAREZ) IN TERMS OF GETTING THEIR INSIGHTS?
Kimi Räikkönen: “It’s different. In F1, it’s a lot of meetings and a lot of other stuff. Here, it’s a bit more relaxed. You kind of have the meetings, but it’s a different way. I don’t have the experience with the cars and all the details, so we had a meeting yesterday as a group, as a whole team, and it’s nice to listen and assess what they thought about the car and what they should do with the car. I think it sounds like everybody has similar difficulties with the cars here. The rear seems to be the tricky part in the highest bit but it’s good to have teammates and to hear what they’re saying and get some advice from them.”
HOW MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE DO YOU FEEL NOW THAN YOU DID AT (WATKINS) GLEN?
Kimi Räikkönen: “Obviously, a little bit. It was just a different track again, and I haven’t driven any racecars since last year, so it takes a while to get used to it again even though I know the car. The car has lost some downforce, so it makes it a bit more tail-happy. At least I know that most of the things how it goes. Is it going to get any better results? We’ll find out. But I know the track so that helps, but as I said before it’s a lot different track with a NASCAR car than an F1 car. I feel more ready for sure on that side now that I know how the race goes and how everything else goes.”
CAN YOU GIVE AN UPDATE ON PROJECT91 AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE FOR THIS YEAR?
Justin Marks: “I’m really happy with where PROJECT91 is right now. It’s resonating with people. We’ve got some great sponsors on the car this weekend. We’re going to definitely race this car multiple times this year. We’re not ready to make any of those announcements yet but people are taking notice. We’ve got some great sponsorships coming our way. It’ll be an exciting program we’ll be able to announce pretty soon.”
WHAT’S BEEN THE GREATER TRANSITION RACING IN NASCAR – KNOWING THE CARS OR KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE MIDDLE OF A RACE?
Kimi Räikkönen: “I think it’s everything. Obviously, I have some experience on different cars and different categories. I did Rally, which is completely different to what I was used to doing in F1. NASCAR, again, it’s easy to think that they’re all kind of similar because you have a steering wheel and four tires, but it changes a lot. The racing is slightly different because in F1 with open wheels, if you touch somebody you usually lose a car or lose the wheel. You cannot really take that risk in F1 that much because you lose tiny parts of the car, and your car is suddenly a second slower than it should be. In NASCAR, you can have a bit more closer racing. Obviously, the rules are different. They’re more open here. I think it’s more of if you kind of behave, well they’ll behave a similar way against you the way I’ve understood. It makes it more exciting at the end of the races when people can be quite aggressive. Everything is different. How they run practices, how they run qualifying, it’s all kind of a learning curve. The car is obviously a lot more different to drive than any other car that I’ve driven before. I like it. It’s quite relaxed. It’s very warming kind of atmosphere. It’s good.”
“I had a good experience in the last one last year. It didn’t end up like we had wished, but when you have 40 other cars, things can go wrong.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL MEMORIES FROM YOUR LAST VICTORY HERE (AT CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS)?
Kimi Räikkönen: “Yeah, for sure. That was my last win and obviously, here, great memories. It was a long time coming and it was a nice race. It wasn’t an easy race, but we managed to win it. I have, for sure, good memories of that.”
COMING BACK TO AUSTIN AS A FIRST WIN AS A TEAM, HOW DOES IT FEEL COMING BACK TO YOUR FIRST CAREER WIN AS AN OWNER?
Justin Marks: “It definitely feels a little bit different than all of the race tracks we go to just because it was such a bit day for our company. You can’t help but drive in here and have a lot of memories from that great day. In that respect, Circuit of the Americas will always be something very special to our company. This weekend, it’s about trying to defend it. Everybody knows these cars a lot better now than they did this time last year, and the competition is tougher this time than it was last year. We’ve got three great drivers and great opportunities to have a good result on Sunday, so that’s what we’re focused on. But I would say Circuit of the Americas is always going to be a place that holds special meaning for our company, obviously.”
WE’VE KIND OF SEEN A REVIVAL OF RINGERS COMING BACK, YOU KIND OF STARTING IT WITH PROJECT91. TODAY’S FIELD IS A DIVERSE TALENT POOL. FROM AN OWNER’S STANDPOINT, DO YOU SEE A POTENTIAL OF A RINGER POSSIBLY COMPETING FOR A WIN AGAIN LIKE WE SAW IN THE 90’S, EARLY 2000’S?
Justin Marks: “Yeah, I certainly think it’s possible. I think because this type of racing is so unique, the car is so different - just the competition, the way the races are, pit road, and strategy. All that stuff is very unique that it’s probably going to be difficult for anybody to come in and do it their first try. But I think that if a program is built around a driver where they get multiple opportunities and they can learn that, like Kimi will be a lot stronger in this race than he was in Watkins Glen just because he’s done it once before and he knows what to expect and he will be better. I think if you get this talent in here and they can learn how to manage these races, and these races are really hard to win for someone who does this every single week for years, so I would say the talent is there. Once the experience matches up with it, I certainly think that’s a potential.”
YOU’VE BEEN AT THIS TRACK A NUMBER OF TIMES, WON HERE IN 2018. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT THIS TRACK, AND WHAT’S THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE THAT MAYBE YOU DIDN’T SEE IN F1 BUT THAT YOU SEE IT IN STOCK CAR?
Kimi Räikkönen: “I think generally the track is nice because at least in F1, and I’m sure in NASCAR, it creates good racing. There are places you can overtake, and especially in F1, you don’t get a lot of circuits you can have a good race. People can actually overtake without the DRS, and it feels more like a normal older-style F1 racing. So that’s how the track layout works for F1 quite well. As I said before, in F1, it’s not flat. Some of the first parts are almost flat, (turns) 17 and 18, those are pretty easy and flat for those cars. A lot of the corners that are tricky. Probably the most tricky corners for NASCAR, they’re not really for F1 cars because of the downforce. It makes a huge difference in the track. All of the bumps the track has in F1 you get away with a lot because, again, the downforce helps and you don’t really feel it but in a NASCAR car, the effect is quite big. It makes it a much more tricky track to drive and to get the car somewhat working as you wish. It’s a completely different track in many ways. It sounds stupid because it’s the same track, but the car makes it a lot different.”
SINCE TRACKHOUSE’S INCEPTION IN 2021, IS YOUR VISION GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN, AND WHAT’S LEFT ON THE TABLE?
Justin Marks: “It’s been tremendous. It’s been incredible. I’ve said it a number of times the plan was always to work really hard and try to build an organization to compete for wins and ultimately compete for a championship. We’ve proven that’s possible for us. We had such an incredible year in 2022 that the challenge shifts a little bit to really focusing on the things we have to focus on to make sure that that’s repeatable, and that we can do that every year, and that we’re continuing to learn these cars at the rate that all these other teams are learning and adapt to any kind of changes in the sport that are coming. That’s really what we need to focus on. But there’s a lot of people over here on this side of the room that’s really had a big role in Trackhouse being a thing and being a contender on the race track. We’ve got a lot of great partners. Our support from Chevrolet has really allowed us access to tools and knowledge that we need to be successful. We’ve got racecar drivers and great pit crews and people at Trackhouse. We’re doing exactly what we thought was possible. It’s been just a lot of fun. It’s been awesome. We’re always working on fun stuff.”
DID YOU EXPECT YOU’D COME BACK TO A NASCAR RACE IN TEXAS TO RACE AGAINST JENSON BUTTON AGAIN? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW COOL IT IS, THE FIELD, THIS WEEKEND?
Kimi Räikkönen: “No, no. I didn’t. I’m not probably expected if I came back or not. It depends on so many things. I’m grateful for the team that we can have another go again, but then a lot of things. The family likes to come here, they really enjoyed last year. It’s a nice trip for all of us, but then there’s a lot of different moving parts that needs to fit – that the timing goes right, and this seems to be the right one. A lot of good drivers. The guys that do it all the time, they’re really fast not just on ovals but also on road courses, they’re good. They’re professional guys and they know how to drive these cars. It doesn’t matter if it’s a road course or an oval, they will always be fast. It’s hard to challenge them, but we will try again with our best and see what we get.”